Checking in at Susanna Foo’s SuGa
Wednesday night I checked in at SuGa, Susanna Foo’s return to Center City. Foo, whose eponymous Walnut Street restaurant once set the bar for Asian food in Philadelphia, is back in the restaurant game with her son Gabriel Foo. The restaurant’s concepts are executed by executive chef, Clara Park and sous chef, Chris Dougherty. The long space, dominated by blonde wood and a dark bar opened quietly over the weekend and after a night off on Monday, began offering dinner service on Tuesday.
The restaurant filled up nicely on a night when the evening’s big news was a tornado watch for Philadelphia. Foo fans and the curious filled the tables and bar, ordering potstickers, dumplings and Kung Pao chicken.
The draft beer wasn’t operational yet, several of the dumpling options weren’t available and the happy hour menu, which is listed online isn’t being offered till next week. It is the definition of a soft launch.
Sitting at the bar, I ordered some bites and drinks. The pork potstickers hit the spot. The bar staff was well trained, accommodating and the tequila honey sage smash was a particularly well-crafted cocktail.
However, it will be interesting to see how 2016 Philadelphia takes to Foo’s menu. Since Foo’s departure in 2009, we’ve sweated out the Sichuan peppers at Han Dynasty. We’ve explored Hong Kong dishes at Ting Wong and slurped noodles at Nan Zhou. Will Kung Pao chicken still excite? Is modern Chinese really tuna tacos? Will her Peking duck still resonate, will the new mapo tofu be a revelation? Will Thai curry bouillabaisse rekindle the French-infused magic of the original Susanna Foo on Walnut Street? All are questions I have as SuGa heads into its first full weekend. Where SuGa fits in, remains to be seen.